Every good business leader knows that there is no place for micromanaging if you want to build a successful team. Yet, as many companies navigate the transition to full-time remote work, leaders across industries are itching to find some semblance of control any way they can -- whether that means hosting extended (and exhausting) Zoom check-ins or pestering their staff every five minutes on Slack for updates on a new project.
Of course, craving control is completely understandable given the current climate. With the stakes higher than ever, you want to know your team is performing their best and has every tool they need to be successful. But while micromanaging can be somewhat effective, it has been proven time and time again to cause more problems than it solves in the long run.
To avoid leaving your team frustrated and feeling like you don't trust them, here are three strategies to employ when leading a newly remote team.
1. Set clear expectations from the beginning.
When you and your team are not on the same page about when projects are expected to be finished, it is easy to slip into micromanaging. To avoid this, I set up a critical path as soon as a project is confirmed and share it with everyone involved.
Make certain that these deadlines are reasonable for everyone on your team to meet, and then use whatever notification system you have to set reminders for your deadlines. I have found that setting up Google Calendar reminders for my team's major deadlines has been extremely successful in remedying my itch for redundant updates since going remote. Not only does the extra "ping" remind you of any outstanding tasks or reviews, but it also means my team knows that it is now reasonable to expect me to check in with them about the status of the given task.
2. Create a reasonable update process that everyone agrees on.
It's reasonable to expect updates on the status of a project. However, if you are checking in every 30 minutes to get the latest on what's going on, nothing is actually going to get done.
Instead of falling into what I like to call "the Slack trap" (or, updating for updating's sake), make it clear when updates should be expected and when you will provide your employees with feedback. You hired your team for a reason. While it is difficult to be unable to see them every day for impromptu troubleshooting, you have to trust they are able to get the job done and will come to you if they need advice.
3. Give yourself room to focus on the big picture.
I hear it all the time: "There's too much on the line right now to get this wrong, so it's justifiable to take on a few tasks that would typically not be worth my time." As we all try to navigate this new normal, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every little task needs your stamp of approval. But if it wasn't worth your time before, it certainly isn't now that there is so much more on your plate.
Allow yourself room to focus on the big picture of your business, whether you are planning to pivot or building a robust response and strategy, instead of clinging onto tiny details that you already have a team in place to handle. Practically, what does this mean? It's time to start delegating the review process to low-level managers, trusting your staff to be able to handle day-to-day operations, and blocking out time in your schedule to tackle the growing needs of the business.